Why You Should Use Visuals in Speech Therapy

Visuals in Speech/Language Therapy Really Do Help!

Why should you use visuals in speech therapy? Because they do help our students! If you don’t already use visuals in your speech-language therapy sessions, these reasons to use visuals will convince you.  If you already use them, you’ll still love the great links for resources!

Speech/language therapist giving visual cues to student

Visuals Aren’t Just for Autism!

Memory

Visualizing is a well-known memory aid, but it isn’t an automatic skill! Practice with remembering images is one way to start.  Remember those ‘What’s Missing?’ activities where kids need to remember the details of the original picture? It is a fun way to build memory skills! Or try using ‘What’s Wrong with this Picture?’ activities to work on visualizing, sentence structure, and describing skills.

Auditory Processing

Visuals help with auditory processing skills. It is easier to understand an oral message when a student has a picture.  But, make sure that picture is directly related to the words you are saying.  Adapted books are a great way to incorporate this tactic. Pictures help connect the words to the concepts so your students can retain the main idea in working memory.

Expressive Language

Use visuals to build expressive language skills. When students use pictured words to formulate sentences, they can begin to see the pattern of the sentence structure. Repetitive practice and color coding help to build and maintain these skills. Picture flip books for building sentences are another fun way to build sentence skills.

Sentence Structure

Older students benefit from visual cues for expanding sentences. They often need help with identifying the types of relationships between the ideas in sentences so that they can produce compound and complex sentences. Using a visual cue with the different options helps with the retrieval of the information. If they can see the choices, they are better able to concentrate on figuring out the relationship and transition word that is needed. Expanding sentences doesn’t have to be a difficult skill!

Articulation

You can even use visuals with articulation skills. Picture or symbol sentences decrease the linguistic demands for sentence formulation. Then students can put all their efforts into the motor aspect of sound production in connected speech and be more successful.

Pacing

Use visuals to help with pacing. Some students find it hard to slow down their pace even at the syllable and word levels so they can coordinate the new movement. Use simple visuals like alphabet letters with spaces between the target sound and the rest of the sounds to help them see that they need to slow down. Start with the target sound a little distance away at first. Then move it closer to the rest of the word as the child achieves correct productions.

Behavior

How about using visuals to aid with behavior? Place a visual reminder of the target behavior to help students stay on task without interrupting the others in the group.

Visuals help everyone to function! What would you do without your phone’s calendar and planner?

Read More about how to Use Visuals!

If you want to find out more about ways to use visuals in your speech/language therapy sessions, be sure to check out all of the posts below!

Collette from The Speech Meadow

Visual Supports for Children with ASD

Using Visuals to Support Communication from National Council for Special Education

It is so time-consuming to create visuals for all of your work with students! We never seem to have enough visuals for our speech/language therapy sessions, even if our students are verbal.

To start, be sure to sign up for the monthly LooksLikeLanguage emails and the really helpful resources you will find in the free section of the blog.

Get Started with Autism and Visuals!

Free token boards, visuals, and great tips are coming your way!

Be sure to check your email, including the spam folder. Then drag it into your mailbox so you receive updates from LLL!

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Then, check these out! There’s a variety available, from those designed for non-speaking students with autism to those designed to help your students in academic placements.

Visual Supports and Autism Toolkit from Autism Speaks

Printable Templates, Diagrams, Forms & Charts! from Education World

Common Core in Action: 10 Visual Literacy Strategies from Edutopia

Graphic Organizers from Freeology

Visuals for Expressive Communication

So much of SLP efforts are put toward increasing comprehension skills since that is needed to succeed in the classroom. As SLPs and special educators, though, we need to also give our students a voice! Whether they can use pictures, words, or a combination of both, helping kids to be able to express their needs, wants, and ideas is a core skill.

play garage with language being modeled visually


If you love file folder activities but also want to improve your students’ sentence skills, check out file folder language and literacy activities!

Read more about how helpful these file folder activities are. And learn how to make your own for free!

Enjoy!


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I’m Linda, an SLP who loves helping you build effective communication skills for your students using strategies and visuals. Pictures are time consuming, so let me make your life easier!

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